“Next Year in Jerusalem”
The biblical feast of Passover will be celebrated this year from the evening of Monday, April 10, 2017, (first Seder) to the evening of Tuesday, April 18, 2017. At the end of Passover Seders all over
the world, Jewish people will recite the very same words that have been uttered for almost 2,000 years: “L’shanah Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim” (la-sha-NAH ha-ba-AH buh-yeh-roo-sha-LAI-eem). In English: “Next year in Jerusalem.”
The use of this phrase/prayer at the conclusion of the Seder was first recorded by Isaac Tyrnau in a 15th-century book of Ashkenazi Jewish customs. However, the custom existed much earlier. “L’shanah Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim” evokes a longing to return to Jerusalem, as well as a reminder of the experience of living in exile, in the diaspora. To many Jews worldwide, the phrase means, “I may be living here, but my heart is in Jerusalem.”
Why Jerusalem? Jerusalem, according to the Holy Scriptures, is the eternal capital of the Jewish nation. It is the house of the God of Jacob (Isaiah 2:3), the city of the great King (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35), the city of God (Psalm 87:3), and the city in which God has chosen to put His name (1 Kings 11:36). Even the topography of Jerusalem bears one of God’s names, El Shaddai (El Sha-DYE), God Almighty. The Hebrew letter Shin, used by Jewish people to represent God—Shaddai—is clearly formed by the three primary valleys in the city of Jerusalem: the Kidron Valley, the Ben Hinnom Valley, and the Tyropoeon Valley. The Creator signed His name in the earth of His city!
During the Old Testament period, Jerusalem was the place where God’s Presence dwelt. Since Temple times, Jewish people have prayed facing Jerusalem as commanded in Scriptures such as 2 Chronicles 6:21, “And may You hear the supplications of Your servant [Solomon] and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and when You hear, forgive.” For this reason, Jewish synagogues in the United States face east, toward Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is not just “any city” to the Jewish people. At every traditional Jewish wedding, a glass is broken to remember Jerusalem and its destruction. When a death occurs, mourners say to one another, “May the Lord comfort you among those who mourn for Zion and Jerusalem.” At the conclusion of a meal, many traditional Jewish people say, “Blessed are You, O Lord, who will build up Jerusalem in mercy.” Jerusalem is woven into the fabric of Jewish life—a major part of the prayers, songs, literature, and customs of God’s People Israel.
Jerusalem and Redemption
The Passover Seder is the telling (haggadah, ha-gah-DAH) of the story of redemption from Egyptian bondage. As Messianic Jews, we include in our seders the story of an even greater redemption that we have experienced through our Messiah Yeshua. He has redeemed us from bondage to spiritual Egypt, bondage to sin. But traditional Orthodox Jews still await a future All eyes on Jerusalem! Medieval map of Jerusalem showing it as the center of the world. redemption. Their belief includes the hope of a rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, which will usher in a messianic era and the ingathering of the exiles from the diaspora. So when an Orthodox Jew recites, “L’shanah Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim,” he is praying for an end to exile and for ultimate redemption, which includes peace, wholeness, and completeness (from shalem, the root of the Hebrew word shalom).
What about Jews living in Israel? They add an additional word to the phrase, praying, “L’shanah Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim habnuyah” (“Next Year in the rebuilt Jerusalem”). Rebuilt when Messiah comes. In other words, there is a messianic longing being expressed at the conclusion of the Seder— at least for the Jewish people who believe in Torah and a coming Messiah. (Secular Jews generally recite “Next year in Jerusalem” as a merely traditional, or perhaps Zionistic, phrase, without any spiritual or messianic implications).
A student at Yeshiva College and staff writer for Kol Hamevaser, Gilad Barach, wrote an insightful piece about the desire inherent in “Next Year in Jerusalem.” He highlighted a dissatisfaction and incompleteness of the Passover celebration due to the absence of the Temple sacrifices. “Our Passover Seder is the exilic version of the biblical pesach offering. Nowadays, we cannot offer the pesach without the Temple, but we attempt to preserve the other secondary aspects of the holiday. We place a roasted bone on the seder plate as an inadequate placeholder, as we try to maintain feelings of festive celebration even when the namesake of the holiday is lost.”
WOW! The “namesake of the holiday” is not lost! We have found Him: Yeshua, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Messiah, our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7). He entered Jerusalem on a donkey as prophesied in the Tanach (Zechariah 9:9); He was led as a lamb to the slaughter as prophesied in the Tanach (Isaiah 53:7). He was sacrificed as the Passover Lamb as fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 53:8). The “zeroa Adonai” (Arm of the Lord, symbolized by the roasted bone on the Seder plate) has been revealed through the resurrection of God’s Lamb, our risen Messiah (Isaiah 53:10). And all this was accomplished by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in His holy city of Jerusalem. Our longing has been satisfied. Our celebration is complete. Our joy is full.
Note: “Next Year in Jerusalem” is also recited at the conclusion of the Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement, service, with an underlying longing for the reinstitution of the Temple sacrifices, and the blood of atonement.
Jewish History of Jerusalem
The Jewish history of Jerusalem originated during the time of Abraham, when God led him to Mount Moriah, the place He had chosen to test Abraham’s love and faith. We mentioned last month that Mount Moriah was in Jerusalem, the place known today as the Temple Mount. The people who originally inhabited this area were known as the Jebusites. When the Lord made a covenant with Abraham, He promised Abram and his descendants a land from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates—which included the land of the Jebusites, among other “ites.” (See Genesis 15:18-21.)
In 1000 BC, immediately following his anointing as king over Israel, David captured the city that God had promised (1 Chronicles 11:4). David established Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish kingdom. David’s son Solomon built the first Jewish Temple there in 960 BC (2 Chronicles 3:1). At that time, he reminded the children of Israel of God’s words to his father, David, words that were destined to have eternal significance and consequences, until our day: “Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel” (2 Chronicles 6:5-6).
From this point on, Jerusalem has a tumultuous history. It has been destroyed two times, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. But there has always been some Jewish presence in, and a Jewish longing for, Jerusalem: “Next Year in Jerusalem.”
Muslim History of Jerusalem
The Prophet Muhammed was born in the year 570 A.D., over 1,500 years after King David conquered the city of Jerusalem. He is known as the “Holy Prophet” to Muslims, most of whom consider him to be the last prophet sent by God to mankind. Muhammed died in 632 A.D. In 621 A.D., he is said to have had a dream or “night journey” with an angel to the city of Jerusalem. This is the only time that Muhammed was in Jerusalem. Six years after his death, the Moslems conquered Jerusalem. They controlled the city until the First Crusade in 1099. In 691, the Dome of the Rock was built on the site of the ancient Jewish Temple. The 10th-century historian Al-Muqaddasi wrote that “…Abd al-Malik built the shrine in order to compete in grandeur with the city’s Christian churches. Whatever the intention, the impressive splendor and scale of the shrine is seen as having helped
significantly in solidifying the attachment of Jerusalem to early Muslim faith.”
The Dome of the Rock is not a mosque, but a Muslim shrine, built over the place believed to be the site from which Muhammed ascended during his “night journey.” The inner side of the octagonal arcade of the Dome contains inscriptions exhorting Christians to depart from error and recognize the truth of Islam. One such inscription reads: “God is only One God. Far be it removed from the transcendent majesty that He should have a son.”
In 1187 A.D. Saladin captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders. In 1250 A.D. a Muslim Caliph dismantled the walls of Jerusalem. In 1517 the Ottoman Empire captured Jerusalem. From 1538-1541 Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem.
While there has certainly been Muslim control of Jerusalem over the centuries, the name Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Koran, other than the brief reference to Muhammed’s “night journey.” No prayers are mentioned for Jerusalem—no longing. Muslims have never prayed toward Jerusalem; they pray five times a day facing Mecca in Saudi Arabia, considered to be the holiest site in the Islamic world. The special connection that Islam claims today to Jerusalem is not historical and makes little sense. Modern Muslim tradition claims Jerusalem as its third holiest site, even though their holy books declare it to be the capital of the Jewish people.
The Struggle Over Jerusalem
Archaeological discoveries in the ancient City of David reconfirm over and over that Jerusalem was indeed the capital of the Jewish nation in 1000 BC. Since then, it has never served as the capital of any other people. The “Palestinian nation”—which has never been a “nation”—wants the city of Jerusalem as its capital—its spiritual capital.
The struggle over Jerusalem is spiritual—a struggle of two ideologies and two gods. One God is Allah, the god of Islam. The other God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of the Bible. Both claim to be the “one true God.” Six days after signing the Peace Accord of 1996, Yasser Arafat called for a jihad, a holy war, to liberate Jerusalem. The agenda has not changed. The following extracts are taken from his speech in a mosque in Johannesburg: “In the name of Allah…believe me there is a lot to be done. The jihad will continue…Our main battle is Jerusalem…It is not their capital. It is our capital… We are in need of you as Muslims, as warriors of jihad…onward to victory, onward to Jerusalem.”
The battle for Jerusalem is a spiritual battle in which the forces of Satan seek to defeat God and His eternal purposes for Jerusalem—including the return of Messiah to the city where the throne of the Lord will be, and which will be the capital city of the whole world during the Messianic Age. (See Zechariah 12:2-3, 8-10; 13:1-2; Isaiah 24:23.)
The God of the Bible has staked His claim in Jerusalem. He has made it clear that Jerusalem belongs to Him. While God loves the Muslims, on this issue He is on the side of the Jews. His Word testifies to His ownership, “For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place; This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it” (Psalm 132:13-14). The Lord reinforces His choosing of Jerusalem in Zechariah 2:10-13.
We are living in exciting days in which prophecy is being fulfilled daily. Jerusalem has become the “burdensome stone” spoken of by the prophet Zechariah (12:2-3). We saw this during the January 20, 2017 “Paris Conference for Peace in the Middle East” in which Jerusalem was on the chopping block. The prayers of God’s people prevailed, and a resolution, which included giving control of the Western
Wall to the Muslims, was averted.
Keep interceding for Jerusalem! We are exhorted to pray for the peace of God’s city (Psalm 122:6). King David reminds us not to forget Jerusalem (Psalm 137:5-6). Jerusalem has a glorious future (Jeremiah 3:17; Isaiah 65:19; Zechariah 2:5). The Messiah is coming back to Jerusalem. His feet will once again touch the Mount of Olives, as they did when He ascended to heaven from Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4; Acts 1:11-12). Even now, Jewish believers are increasing in numbers daily in Jerusalem and throughout the Land of Israel, getting ready to say the words of welcome that Yeshua prophesied over 1,900 years ago, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! (Baruch haba b’shem Adonai)‘” (Luke 13:34-35).
Blessings in the Lamb, Messiah, our Passover,
P.S. Israel is the only country in the world that has not had the right to determine its own capital city. The nations of the world have dictated this. Their embassies are all in Tel Aviv. Pray for President Trump—for wisdom, guidance, courage, and supernatural favor to do what other presidents said they would do, but did not: move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. While such a bold, biblical move would surely infuriate the enemy, the blessings of God would accompany it.
P.P.S. Be sure to visit our website to order your Passover Seder plates, kiddush cups, Haggadahs, preparation guides for the Seder, and Passover themed books. Be blessed by our special Passover Sale this month!